After nearly a year of languishing sales and seeming disinterest from readers, "Skaar: Son of Hulk" begins "Planet Skaar," a story that has the eponymous brute come to Earth and ready to kill his father. After a confrontation with the Warbound and Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. organization, Skaar is seemingly dead.
In reality, Skaar has reverted to his human child form, which allows Greg Pak to explore some of the same tensions through this character as writers have explored through the Hulk since his inception. As the human Skaar looks to kill himself to prevent more death and destruction, he encounters two other children, one of whom becomes injured. Skaar helps the child make it to the authorities, and... well, anyone who's read a Hulk story knows where this is going.
Following a well-worn path is both a positive and negative here as it allows Pak to play with expectations and demonstrate how Skaar is different from his father. The confidence that Skaar exhibits in his human form is striking when you think back to the number of times Bruce Banner has cowered and sulked. That this child is so willing to sacrifice his own life to save others shows that there's a lot of potential in this character to be another type of Hulk character rather than a simple copy.
However, since Pak chooses to repeat plot points that are very familiar to readers, the subtle difference in Skaar's character may not be enough to keep readers engaged. Especially since the differences are very small and few. That familiarity, though, could be what readers checking out this book for the first time want.
The art of Dan Panosian has a very strong resemblance to John Romita, Jr.'s work, and it brings to mind Romita's work on Bruce Jones' run on the "Hulk" and "World War Hulk." While not as refined as Romita's art, Panosian's line work is very similar with a slight Kevin O'Neill feel to it as well. If you look at the opening pages, the similarity is impossible to miss, but Panosian is a little more stiff than Romita. However, the art is still very good and impressive.
Ron Lim illustrates the latter half of the book and flashbacks to Skaar's encounter with Galactus, and he makes a strong attempt to mimic Panosian's work, demonstrating why he is considered such a consummate professional. There is a noticeable change, but it's slight.
With the popularity of "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk," this "Planet Skaar" storyline should attract some new readers who want to see the Hulk and his son destroy everything around themselves to get at one another, and this issue seems to cater to that by setting Skaar up in a similar manner as the Hulk. The big surprise, though, is the art of Dan Panosian whose drawing is reminiscent of John Romita, Jr.'s art, and acts as a visual callback to "World War Hulk," which is a lovely touch.